Roosters' best Friend posts big milestone

Darren Walton
Sydney Roosters co-captain Jake Friend will play NRL game 250 this weekend against the Eels

Ask Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson what Jake Friend means to the back-to-back NRL premiers and he responds: "How long have you got?"

When Friend was fighting for his career after having his contract torn up before Christmas 2009, following a string of alcohol-related indiscretions, Robinson never imagined the then-wayward teenager would become a Roosters club captain and 250-gamer.

But that's what the 30-year-old will be when he reaches the milestone match on Saturday night against table-topping Parramatta at Bankwest Stadium.

"He had some off-field issues and I was around then (as assistant coach) so we were just trying to get him back into being an NRL player let alone playing 250 games and captaining your club.

"But in early doors, there's a difference between character and behaviour. Some of the behaviours needed to improve as an 18-year-old, like a lot of us, but the character was strong and we saw that early doors."

Despite his early struggles, Robinson never doubted Friend's special qualities as a player.

"People follow him. He doesn't say a lot but the guys that have played with him for those 250 games would thank him, every single one of them, for the way that he's played," Robinson said on Friday.

"He's embodied a warrior in the way that he's gone about his footy, and he's got class that not enough people see.

"It's quite funny when people talk about hookers in our game and we have a bit of a chuckle here at the Roosters - everybody knows, anybody that's played with Jake knows what a great leader he is and an incredible player.

"He does his job and then he goes and does other people's job, and the consistency that he's played with over a long period of time is incredible. It's incredible."

Despite representing Australia in 2016, Robinson believes Friend is under-appreciated outside the Roosters.

"If you really look at the game and what the role of a hooker is, the man ticks a lot of boxes and it's there for people to see. They just need to see it in the right way," said the three-time premiership mentor.

"People sometimes want a flashy moment. There may be a trick play that a hooker comes up with and they're put forward.

"Try doing what he does for 250 games."